How to Become an Accountant in Maryland

Three Parts:Earning Your DegreeSinging up for the CPA License ExaminationGetting Licensed

Certified public accountants work with individuals and businesses auditing financial statements, preparing tax documents and providing advice on taxes and finances. If you’d like to become an accountant in Maryland, you’ll need the proper education and licensing. The Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation[1] regulates the licensing of certified public accountants in the state of Maryland. Only those with a valid Certified Public Accountants (CPA) license can use the CPA credential and work in the state of Maryland as a public accountant.

Part 1
Earning Your Degree

  1. 1
    Earn your bachelor’s degree. Typically, you’ll pursue a Bachelor of Science in Accounting, although your institution may vary slightly. A bachelor’s degree almost always requires successful completion of 120 semester hours or 180 quarter hours. Fortunately, because of the internet, you have the ability to attend college online or in person, which opens up your options when deciding what schools you’ll apply to.
    • Make sure that the institution you attend is accredited and able to confer your degree.
  2. 2
    Choosing the right school. Choosing the right college for you is an important step. After all, you’ll be spending your time, money, and countless hours there and you want to make sure that it’s the best fit for you. There are a variety of factors to consider when choosing a college, although you’ll do best to pick the four or five most important factors to help you narrow down your best college.[2]
    • Prioritize what’s important to you and rank the list, then compare your potential colleges to that list.
    • Funding – what sort of scholarships and financial aid is available?
    • Cost – what are tuition and fees? If you’ll be attending as a non-resident, remember those fees will be higher.
    • National ranking – what’s the colleges overall national rank? What about their Accounting program’s rank?[3]
    • Extracurriculars – what sort of extracurricular opportunities are available to students?
  3. 3
    Take the right classes. Your college or university will have specific institutional requirements about what classes you’ll need to successfully take to earn your degree. Built in to every degree are electives, which are classes that you take to enhance your education, but aren’t specifically required. To apply to take the Uniform CPA exam, Maryland requires that within your 120 or 180 completed hours that you take specific classes, and some of these may have to be taken as electives.[4]
    • Maryland’s course requirements specify that you must take, “30 semester hours or 45 quarter credit hours in Group I, which requires 27 semester or 41 quarter credit hours must be in accounting and related subjects, and 3 semester credit hours or 4.5 quarter credit hours must be in ethics.”[5]
    • The state requires candidates complete 1 course in auditing, cost accounting and U.S. Federal Taxes. In addition, the curriculum must include 9 hours of financial accounting and electives.
    • Maryland requires students complete 21 hours in business courses, which include statistics, quantitative methods, economics, management, business finance, marketing, business communication, computer information systems and U.S. business law.
    • Students must also complete a curriculum that includes business ethics, philosophy of ethics and accounting ethics.
    • Meet with your Academic Advisor to make sure you’re on track.
  4. 4
    Continue your education. To actually obtain your CPA license in Maryland, you’ll need to continue your education for what amounts to one, full-time academic year beyond your bachelor’s degree. As with your undergraduate degree, the state has specific course requirements within those extra classes that you have to take.
    • The State of Maryland recognizes several education programs in their continuing education efforts.
    • If a program says that they’re certified by the state, double check the state’s website to make sure.[6]
    • To qualify for licensing, you’ll need to complete 150 semester or 225 quarter hours and complete the requirements of Group II Business-related education, which is defined on The Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation’s website.
  5. 5
    Pursue international equivalents. If you received your degree internationally from a foreign university or college, you’ll need to have your degree evaluated for equivalency. Contact the NASBA International Evaluation Service to have your degree audited and determine if your degree meets Maryland’s requirements or not.[7]
    • Do not use any other service, as the state will only accept an audit from NASBA.
    • When you request your NASBA audit, make it clear that it is so that you can qualify to take the Uniform CPA exam.

Part 2
Singing up for the CPA License Examination

  1. 1
    Get your documents in order. You’ll need to provide your transcripts when you apply to sit for the CPA exam. These transcripts will show that you’ve graduated, are in good standing with your institution, and that you took the required classes. Also, this is a good time to make sure that you have photo identification and any other proof of identity that may be required at the exam.[8]
    • Some institutions charge a fee to process and send transcripts.
    • You’ll need to send transcripts from every institution that you attended.
    • No institution will process or send your transcripts if you owe any outstanding fees.
  2. 2
    Apply to take the exam. After you’ve gathered your documents, you’ll apply online to take the exam. This process begins with you requesting authorization to take the exam and your receiving permission to do so once your materials have been processed.[9][10]
    • You’ll be able to log into the website to check the status of your application.
  3. 3
    Register for the exam. Register online for the CPA exam. You’ll need a valid email address, and they suggest that you use your personal email so that you can control spam filters, should it be necessary. Once your application is processed and your registration is complete, you’ll be able to select the date that you’d prefer to take the exam.[11]
    • Be cautious when you enter your name in the registration area. Your photo identification must match the name you type exactly or you will be denied entry into the exam.
    • If your name changes between the time that you register and that you sit for the exam, you’ll need to bring your official court documents of name change to the Board before the exam.
  4. 4
    Pay your fees. You will be required by law to pay a $67 fee to take the exam, whether this is your first time taking the exam or not. You can pay that fee online when you register. You’ll take four sections of the exam altogether, and each section has its own fee.[12] The sections are:[13]
    • Auditing and Attestation
    • Financial Accounting and Reporting
    • Regulation
    • Business Environment and Concepts
    • Don’t register or pay for all sections at one time. Your application is only valid for six months, at which time you’ll have to reapply and re-pay the fees.
  5. 5
    Pass the exam. The Uniform CPA Examination is comprised of four parts: Auditing and Attestation, Financial Accounting and Reporting, Regulation, and Business Environment and Concepts and is a 14-hour exam. Study for and take one exam section at a time, ensuring that you have ample time to study and don’t have to re-register. There are several books at your local bookstore available to help you study for each section.[14]
    • Each section has groups of questions, which are called “testlets”
    • Each testlet has multiple choice questions, although the fourth testlet (Business Environment and Concepts) will also have written communication tasks.

Part 3
Getting Licensed

  1. 1
    Complete a home study course in Ethics. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is the only entity that offers the self-paced, home study course for students who complete the Uniform CPA examination. You must pass the ethics examination before you can be granted your CPA license in the state of Maryland.[15]
    • The course is offered in two formats – text and on-demand, which is a computer-integrated format.[16]
  2. 2
    Apply for licensure with the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. Candidates who pass the CPA examination and meet the work and ethics course requirements can apply for licensure in the state of Maryland. The application must include a Report of Practical Experience form and a certificate of completion for the ethics course from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.[17]
    • The state verifies the education of candidates in the application for the CPA examination.
  3. 3
    Meet work experience requirements. The license candidate must have 2000 hours of experience in accounting duties that a licensed CPA verifies. These 2000 hours must be accumulated within three years preceding the application for your CPA license.[18]
    • You may work within the areas of academia, government, industry, or public practice.
    • The candidate's work experience must be in accounting related duties. Duties can include providing financial advice, preparing tax documents, auditing or providing management advice.
    • After your exam, you’ll work for one year (2000 hours) and then apply for your license.
  4. 4
    Stay current. Maryland requires licensed CPAs to complete 80 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) courses every two years in order to maintain a current license. Of the 80 hours, four must be in professional ethics.[19]
    • You don’t have continuation education requirements for your first renewal.
    • Hold on to your CPE records for four years, just in case there’s an issue.


  • If you hold a CPA license in another state or country, fill out the CPA Reciprocal Initial Application.[20]

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